Euro 2012: Talented Netherlands Squad Stunned by Upstart Denmark

Jon ReidCorrespondent IIJune 9, 2012

KHARKOV, UKRAINE - JUNE 09: Arjen Robben of Netherlands reacts during the UEFA EURO 2012 group B match between Netherlands and Denmark at Metalist Stadium on June 9, 2012 in Kharkov, Ukraine.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Lars Baron/Getty Images

Ever since the groups were decided for the UEFA Euro Cup 2012, Group B has been hailed as the ever-so-menacing "Group of Death".

With the most up-to-date FIFA world rankings placing all four Group B squads in the top 10 (only three other European sides can make that claim), there was never any doubt that each of the six head-to-head matchups would provide some exciting moments.

The opening match from Kharkiv pitted the potent attack of the Netherlands against the upstart side from Denmark.

The match wouldn't disappoint, as the Dutch were all over the Danes throughout the 90-minute tilt, firing 32 attempts at the Danish goal, managing to put five of them on target.

It would be the Danes, however, that would strike first in the 25th minute, when Michael Krohn-Dehli slipped past the Dutch defenders and put the ball through the legs of the Netherlands' keeper, Maarten Stekelenburg.

From that point on, though, it was all Holland.

Some excellent passing, as well as accurate crosses, allowed the Dutch midfielders and strikers to combine for an astounding 16 shots inside the box, with Arjen Robben even connecting with the goal post at one point, and Robin van Persie having a few opportunities in tight.

With the Dutch side struggling to finish any of their opportunities, manager Bert van Marwijk elected to go all in, inserting Tottenham midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, and Schalke 04 FC striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to play alongside van Persie, Robben and Wesley Sneijder with 19 minutes left to play.

The move seemed like it may pay dividends, when Huntelaar found himself in behind the Danish defense, before Dutch fans were stunned once more, when a dashing Stephan Andersen rushed out to meet the ball before Huntelaar could bury it for the equalizer.

Despite the Dutch side's best efforts, they could not manage to notch a goal, and fell in their tournament opener to Denmark.

The defeat marked the first loss to Denmark since October 4, 1967.

With the Germans having just knocked off Portugal by a score of one goal to nil, suffice it to say, Wednesday's fixture against Germany is nothing short of a must-win for this Dutch squad.

While the road to the knockout stage may have just gotten much tougher for the Netherlands, their talent and experience make it far too tough to count them out at this point.